A toolkit for the identification and support
of learners exhibiting literacy difficulties

Supporting Learners

Our school education system, and the policies and legislation which support it, is designed to be inclusive and one which is based on the needs a child or young person experiences.

Education authorities are required to identify the additional support needs of each child or young person for whose school education they are responsible. The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (ASfL Act) and amendments made in 2009 provide the legal framework for assessment. However, no particular model of assessment or support is prescribed in "the Act".  The 2017 Code of Practice is also important and is designed to help schools, parents and others to understand the ASfL Act and ensure its implementation.

Literacy, numeracy and Health and Wellbeing are the responsibilities of every teacher. Personalising learning is a key focus of Curriculum for Excellence, ensuring learning, teaching and assessment is planned with the learner at the centre and that support is targeted to individual needs.  This approach is supported by the ‘Getting it right for every child' approach, a key Scottish Government policy for all professionals working to support children, young people and their families.

Teachers have to support children and young people with a range of additional support needs and  many difficulties overlap with other areas of need. Teachers should work in partnership with parents and other professionals, including the full range of allied health professionals, to ensure that children's needs are appropriately identified and met. The guidelines in this resource apply only to dyslexia, but many of the approaches will help a range of different needs.

Scotland's needs-led system places the learner at the centre and the provision of support is not dependent upon a formal label or identification of need. The assessment, support and monitoring of dyslexia should, for most children and young people, be a staged process.  

Staged level of intervention

All local authorities have a staged intervention and assessment process in place which enables practitioners to assess and meet learners’ needs, including dyslexia. Staged intervention:

  • Helps identify, assess, plan, record and review the learning needs of children and young people. It aims to meet a child’s needs at the earliest opportunity and with the least intrusive level of intervention.
  • Involves the child, parents and carers, school staff and, at some levels, other professionals, all working in partnership to get it right for every child.

Staged intervention allows for movement between stages, depending on how the child or young person is doing. There are variations between local authorities regarding the number of stages within their process - the diagram below highlights 3 stages.

Children and young people with dyslexia or other literacy difficulties will generally be accommodated at the first two stages of the staged process. If, however, difficulties are more complex, or there are complicating factors that involve services other than Education, then there may be a need to follow through to the second and perhaps third stage. Teachers should check with their own authority and ensure they keep within their own authority guidelines.